A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s business when one of his customers told me that he knew someone who should write for “your site.” I assumed he meant my friend’s business website and responded accordingly. When this customer, a man in his early seventies, looked confused, I stuttered. “Do you mean the store website,” I asked, “or my ‘naughty website’?”
One of my friend’s employees laughed, “Is that what you call it?” he asked.
We all live in multiple worlds. We all, often without even noticing, present different faces: to managers, religious leaders (or the yoga teacher, depending on your spiritual bent), the clerk at the grocery store, the guy at the bar, our grandparents. One person may see “competent you” where you talk about your recent accomplishments at work, where the next person may see the “quirky you” where you talk about your creative endeavors and the way you’re never on time, and the dude at the post office is probably just going to see “pissed off you” where you act like a dragon because you’re late shipping this package and who mails things anyway these days.
I haven’t had a “day job” all summer; I wanted to enjoy Seattle’s rare sunshine while it lasted (and, yes, become too broke to run this magazine). But while one is unemployed one is inclined to over-analyze one’s LinkedIn profile and one’s resume. What does this have to do with sex, you may ask? I’ll tell you, just sit still for a sec. Over-analyzing my resume meant asking myself, for months, “Should I put Peaches Magazine on it?”
I’ve never been so proud of an accomplishment. It summarizes everything I am and do well. I love it to death. Why couldn’t I share it? Well, for starters, because it might give people the wrong idea.
I’m a woman who’s worked for two men who behaved very badly when they became aware of my sexuality, even if “becoming aware” was triggered by the radical sight of my calves. The last thing I want is for someone to read my resume, hire me, and then start making snide little comments and assuming that everything I do is provocation. Yes, we do still sometimes encounter these caveman types. So for this reason I didn’t put it on my resume. But for the fact that OMERGERD THIS IS THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER DONE, it found its way onto that precious income-defining sheet of paper anyway.
I considered this inclusion an experiment and risk, still up for examination. Then something truly odd happened. I interviewed for a job, and the magazine never came up in conversation during the interviews. Afterward, when this hiring manager apologized and said he didn’t need a replacement for that role because the original person wasn’t leaving after all, he emailed me: Are you Peaches?
He didn’t ask this question because he’d noticed the site listed on my resume and looked it up. He put it together because he had already been visiting the site for a few months and connected dots between my bio portrait and the email address I was using to correspond with him (which did not involve this URL).
My point is that it is very difficult to maintain a secret identity. And that has been a frequent topic of conversation since I started this site. I have writers with split identities who write fiction as one person and nonfiction as another. I have writers who have found total peace in their sexual explorations but gawd forbid family ever find out about it. I am surprised whenever someone contributes who doesn’t care about using a pseudonym because it’s usually the first question: do I have to publish as myself?
No sugarplum, you don’t. Most of us are not.
And that is really bizarre. It’s bizarre to me when I find out that someone I thought I knew well has been in an open relationship for quite some time. It’s bizarre to me that after giving an interview touting frankness about sexuality, I’m still unsure about whether this site can go on my resume. It’s bizarre to me that people can spend money on equipment, become part of a community, develop an intimate relationship, secretly. With none of it shared with their friends or family. It seems bizarre to me that one of my most beautifully talented writers is talking about sharing her participation in our first eBook by pasting signs “up in the dead of night” because no one can know what she and her partner do.
In this way there are a lot of hetero people who have yet to come out of the closet.
I told that guy, the guy who’d interviewed me for a job, that yes, I am Peaches. And I’m honored to hear that he’s a fan of the site. And the guy at my friend’s business who thinks his paid escort should write for my site? I’m honored to hear from him, too. I’m honored that, bizarre as it may seem, an elderly man will come up to me at a retail store and tell me about the domme he knows who’s also a helluva writer.
Y’see, those confessions–that coming out of the closet–is what this site is all about. Confessions like: Yeah, I’m a girl who likes to dominate in bed. I’m a squirter. I’m a guy who loves latex. I’m into stories about teachers and pupils. I’d kill for a boyfriend with great oral skills, or, I’d kill for a girlfriend who doesn’t mind if I never want her to go down on me.
Confessions. Confession is only necessary in a culture that permits–encourages–secrecy. I can’t tell you publicly that I love being tied to the bedposts, so I have to confess it to someone else. It’s this sort of attitude that led men to take lovers because they assumed their “good” wives didn’t want to know about their secret desires; it’s this sort of attitude that made homosexuality a source of shame; it’s this sort of attitude that makes a man behave like an ass because “if you’re telling me about it, you must be a slut.”
Guess what, maybe I like having sex but wouldn’t like having it with you. This is a shocking concept as long as people and their sexuality are dirty and hidden and secret.
I get that a part of the joy is in the intimacy, in the just-you-and-me. Publicity doesn’t increase arousal, just the opposite in most cases. But there is a difference between publicity and frankness.
There is a difference between knowing about and thinking you have a right to.
To which I say… fuck it all.
If it harm none, do what you will. And if you can, help a girl out and be frank about it. There’s no dichotomy-changer like confessing the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.